Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day 9 - Jack and Amy's Yellowstone and Grand Teton Vacation

Jack & Amy’s 2009 Vacation to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons

Day 9 - Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Day 9 Photos:

This would be our last morning inside Yellowstone National Park. We checked out of the Lake Lodge Cabins, had a nice breakfast at the Fishing Bridge Restaurant, and hit the road.

We stopped at Moose Falls on the drive in, but decided to check it out again on the drive out. I'm glad we did, because the lighting was much better this morning making for some better photos than the first attempt.

Moose Falls

I had wanted to get one more hike in before leaving Yellowstone and the Terraced Falls hike came highly recommended. While the waterfall itself and most of the trail is located in the seldom visited South West corner of the Yellowstone, the trailhead is located just outside the park boundary and is accessed via Flagg Ranch / Grassy Lake Road.

It took much longer than I anticipated to drive the 15 miles on this very rough dirt road, but we eventually arrived at the trailhead. Amy elected to sit this one out and decided to wait in the car with her book, while I did the 3.6 mile (1.8 mile out and back) hike to Terraced Falls.

The trail starts out following Cascade Creek and almost immediately a small sign marks the spot where you enter into Yellowstone. A couple of nice cascades and waterfalls can be viewed along the way.

Small Waterfall on Cascade Creek

A little past the half-way point, Cascade Creek joins the Falls River at a very scenic confluence. The trail continues along the Falls River past a few nice cascades before ending at the top of Terraced Falls.

Terraced Falls is a nice one, however there is really no good spot to view it. Signs warn that it is illegal to leave the trail in the Terraced Falls area. Even without the signs, this is a very rugged gorge and it would not have been safe to explore any further, especially on a solo hike.

Terraced Falls

So I settled for the trailside views which were mainly from the top and side of the falls before returning back the way I came. It's a nice trail, but it would have been much better if it would have led to a better viewpoint of Terraced Falls.

Our lodging for the last night of our vacation would be at the Flat Creek Inn, just north of Jackson, WY. However, before that, we wanted to hit a few more sights around the Grand Tetons that we didn't get to earlier in the week.

The Grand Tetons

We hit a couple of the roadside overlooks and drove up Signal Mountain. Compared to the Tetons, Signal Mountain is not much of a mountain. However, it does rise about 1,000 feet above the surrounding landscape and offers some spectacular view of the flatlands to the East and the Grand Tetons to the West.

Grand Teton from Signal Mountain

Our last stop inside the park would be The Chapel of the Transfiguration. We almost skipped this, because the Chapel of the Sacred Heart that we stopped at earlier was not very noteworthy. I am glad we didn't because the Chapel of the Transfiguration turned out to be a very scenic spot.

The Chapel of the Transfiguration

Also, inside the chapel was very cool as well. The glass window behind the alter perfectly frames an awesome view of the Grand Tetons!

View of the Grand Tetons from inside the Chapel of Transfiguration

Our last stop in the Grand Tetons, was as we were crossing the Snake River, we saw a couple of Bull Moose hanging out, so we pulled off on the side of the road so I could snap a few Moose photos.

Bull Moose in the Snake River

I chose the Flat Creek Inn for our last night of lodging because we had an early flight out the next morning and it was the closest thing to the Jackson Hole Airport. It turned out to be a nice motel with large clean rooms and our first king sized bed since leaving home 9 days earlier. After we checked in, we decided to head into Downtown Jackson for dinner.

We both decided we were craving pizza, so the "Mountain High Pizza Pie" restaurant seemed like the obvious choice! If you ever find yourself craving pizza in Jackson, WY, this is the place to go! The pizza was almost as good as "The Brick", our favorite pizza joint back home in the Carolinas.

We enjoyed some awesome pizza at the Mountain High Pizza Pie!

We were going to do a bit more exploring downtown after dinner, but the rain had started falling. We had a few sprinkles early in the week, but for the most part our trip was rain free, so I wasn't about to complain about a little rain shower on our last day.

So instead we headed back to the Flat Creek Inn. None of the accommodations inside Yellowstone or Grand Teton National park have televisions, so after going 9 days without TV, Amy watched about 5 hours worth that evening.

I had to go out for a little exploring, and after darkness set in, I decided to try some more night time photography along side of the highway outside the motel.

Night time at the Flat Creek Inn

Additional Photos from Day 9 of our vacation are located here:

Our flight out the next morning was at 7:00am, which meant getting up around 5:00am. We were only about 10 minutes from the airport, and in this part of the world you don't really have to worry about traffic. But we still had to get there early enough to return the rental car, check in, and get through security.

Day 10 - Monday, September 14th, 2009

We were both awake earlier than planned, and after packing up our stuff, we headed on out to the airport. I was expecting it to be a breeze checking in and getting through security at a small airport like Jackson Hole. I was dead wrong!

It's a good thing we got there early. It seemed that every major flight out of Jackson Hole leaves between 6:00am and 7:00am, and the line to check in was huge! The line through security was just as bad!

Originally when we booked the flights, it was a smaller plane with only 2 seats on each side of the center aisle. Of course, we selected an aisle and window seat next to each other. Sometime between then and now, United did some flight consolidations, changed our flight times, and changed to larger airplane. We still had a window and aisle seat, but there was a third middle seat in between us.

So a gentleman in a large cowboy hat who had the seat in-between us graciously offered to switch seats with Amy so she could sit next to me while he took the window seat. Turns out we were seated next to a minor celebrity.

I had never heard of him, but Amy who is a much bigger fan of country music was seated next to country singer Derryl Perry:

The flight was smooth and on time. We had lunch during our 2-hour layover at the Chicago Airport, and the flight from Chicago to Greer, SC also went off without a hitch.

Our checked baggage made it through as well, and Amy's friend Kristi picked us up from the airport and drove us home.

After 10 days without internet, one of the first things I wanted to do when I got home was start catching up on all my eMails and various online forums that I belong to. Turns out our internet was dead!

Three frustrating hours later trying to figure out what the heck was wrong, I felt like a failure. I always like to figure these things out on my own, but Amy finally convinced me to call AT&T customer support.

They eventually got us hooked up to a low speed connection, but it would be several days before a technician could make it out and finally get us back up to full speed.

I was happy to learn that there was nothing I could have done to fix the problem. The issue was caused by a connection gone bad in one of the junction boxes out by the road.

It was an awesome vacation and I enjoyed reliving it by going through all the photos and writing these trip reports, but it also feels good to have it complete and the last days trip report posted!

Additional Photos from Day 9 of our vacation are located here:


HemlockMan said...

Wow. I know that it will be a major downer on the day I have to leave that place, when I finally go.

So far, we're having crappy luck trying to get reservations online. How did you get yours? Did you phone or use the online deal? All I can get through online are some cabin rooms at Roosevelt Lodge. We want to move about the park, but I'll settle for that if I must.

Why can't you leave the trail at Terrace Falls? Is it not inside the park? Or is the terrain just too dangerous?

Jack said...

When are you planning your visit? I have heard that if you plan to visit in July or August, you should be booking your rooms a year in advance. I definitely would not recommend July or August as they are the most crowded months by far!

I did all my reservations online as I trust computers more than people to get it right!

Terraced Falls is located inside the park and it goes through a pretty rugged gorge. My guess is they put up the signs because too many people have been injured. You see lots of signs like that around the popular touristy attractions, so I was a little surprised to see them there

HemlockMan said...

We want to go in early September. After the Labor Day holiday.

So luck.